Harold Horstmann's letter of June 13 replying to my letter of June 1 contains so many fallacies it is impossible to address them all in 400 words, but here are some of the main points.
History: Mr. Horstmann completely ignores the history of the Middle East conflict. Very briefly, the U.N. partitioned the former British mandate territory of Palestine in 1949 and gave half of it to the Zionist immigrants who had conducted a terrorist campaign against the British.
In a 1967 war, Israel significantly expanded the partition boundaries to take over the West Bank and Golan Heights. As a result of the initial partition and the subsequent expansion, millions of Palestinians became refugees, having to abandon their homes and businesses with no compensation. It is this fundamental injustice that angers the Palestinians. It is not a matter of Muslim theology as Mr. Horstmann would have us believe.
What if Mexican immigrants in Texas were to demand a separate state for themselves, and the U.N. then partitioned Texas and gave half of it to the immigrants who then declared the new state of MexTex? Assume also that MexTex is internationally recognized, admitted to the U.N., declares Spanish to be its official language and Catholicism to be its official religion.
Millions of Texans, threatened by violence, flee from their homes and businesses, receive no compensation for their losses and become refugees living in tent cities in what remains of Texas. This is roughly what happened to the Palestinians, just substitute Israel for MexTex, Hebrew for Spanish, Judaism for Catholicism and put the tent cities filled with refugees in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Gaza. Of course, the victims of such an injustice are going to be angry and they are going to want their property back.
American interests: It is not in America's interest to perpetuate this injustice. From a practical point of view, America has two strategic interests in the Middle East - oil and rights to maintain military bases in strategic locations; and it is the Arab countries not Israel that can provide these to the greatest extent.
The argument that we must support Israel because it is "our only democratic ally in the Middle East" is nothing but a catch-phrase ginned up by Israeli propaganda. It obscures our real interests and ignores the fact that Israel, as the only nuclear power in the region can defend itself.